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It was Spring Break, 1996 and I was lying in my bed staring at the ceiling with my hands clasped behind my head. It felt great to have a break from the demands of the 11th grade. My mom walked in my room to let me know she was on her way to work. "Make sure you clean the kitchen and the bathroom before you go to your dad's...oh! and since your cycle started, you need to do your monthly self-breast exam," she said as she left the room. "Ok ma. Love you." Ugh! I hated those self-breast exams.
So as I was cleaning the bathroom, I got a glimpse of a decal hanging from the shower fixture. Of course, it was a diagram of a woman's breasts with arrows on them drawn in a circular direction. Her arm was raised above her head, and it listed directions on how to examine your own breasts. Being that my mother worked in a gynecologist's office she had access to these things everyday. I was a year away from being 18 and was not sexually active, so I had not started having pap smears or pelvic exams yet. I had actually learned how to do them initially reading Essence magazine along with advice from my mother. It was now time to shower and get dressed. This particular day, I had butterflies when it was time to do the exam. Reluctantly, I got in the shower and began my self-exam. Left breast: Nothing (whew!), or so I thought. The right side was a different story. On the outer edge near my armpit, I found a lump to match the lump that had just popped up in my throat! I can't begin to describe the roller coaster on which my heart dropped and the panic that came over me. Although I have always been the "glass-is-half-full" type, being uneducated about breast lumps at 17 led me to automatically assumed the worst.
Being that my dad was the most even tempered when it came to things like this, I told him first. That same day, he took me to see a gynecologist. She examined me, looked in my eyes, and gave me a comforting smile.
"You have lumpy breasts young lady, " she said.
"Ummm, okay. So what does that mean?" I asked.
"Give me your hand, feel this (referring to the lump I'd found). You see how this lump is hard and rolls around like a marble?"
"Yes," I said.
"Is it tender?"
"Yes," I answered.
"All of these variables are ruling out cancer. Usually, cancer isn't tender to the touch and it doesn't roll around like marbles. It's usually attached to the surrounding tissue and doesn't move. I'm almost positive you just have fibrocystic breasts, but to be sure I'd like to schedule a breast biopsy for you...By the way, you have a total of four. Two in each breast."
(Staring) "FOUR!? What causes them?" I asked.
"Other than hormonal changes, no one really knows for sure. All I can tell you is make sure you dramatically decrease or eliminate caffeine from your diet, and be sure you're receiving the best nutrition possible."
At 17? Yeah right! A few weeks later I had a biopsy. Unfortunately it was done surgically instead of through a needle. The surgery left an inch and a half scar on the outer edge of my right breast and inch and a half scar on the edge of the bottom of the areola on the left (can't even see that one). Ironically, the big lump I found on the right side had dissolved by the time I had my surgery, but the others had not. Soon after, the test results were in. Fibrocystic Ademona (Fibroadenoma) was the diagnosis. Studies show that Fibrocystic Ademona is not cancerous, but high quantities or frequencies can increase the risk of breast cancer. That was the start of it. I was advised to have annual mammograms at an early age to keep an eye on them, as they can grow back.
Fast forward 15 years later to November 30, 2011. In a recent mammogram and ultra sound, Fibrocystic Adenoma nodules showed their ugly faces again in the right breast. Another biopsy will tell for sure...through needle this time. No more going under the knife. I found out that it could've been done via needle the first time too!!!! Humph! A friend of mine, who's a physician, once stated that everyone's body [naturally] reacts differently to stressful situations, harmful environments, etc. Some people gain weight, some break out (with whatever), some become easily suseptible to colds/flu, some people GROW things inside their bodies--be it cancer, tumors, endometriosis, etc.! WOW! This time around I am much better equipped to eradicate the situation. Knowing that I can control the environment in my body, I've become more serious about incorporating more wholistic nutrition, consistent physical activity, daily meditation, and other alternative treatments/preventative care. I'm on a raging path to being rid of them forever!!!! A healthy body lights fire to the immune system, and makes it nearly impossible for ANY illness to adhere to it, even if you're exposed.
All of this has inspired me to research the origin of cysts, fibroids, and fibrocysts (and the like) in women---especially black women---and how we can use alternative treatments and preventative measures to keep them at bay. Ta ta for now.
Much Love, Joy, Peace & Excellent Health to you! <3